I learned why Christians often feel this way while reading a book by IJM's founder Gary A. Haugen. It's called Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian. Although I wouldn't say he has the answer for all cases of Christian discontentment, he brings out a truth that is so simple, obvious, and get so profound. Gary has it right when he says "Earnest, gifted, mature Christians--we feel like we're all dressed up with nowhere to go."
The fact is, we as Christians have not been created and saved for the sole purpose of our own spiritual growth, and to grow in our careers, churches and ministries. And yet that's all so many of us are doing.
"If we believe, for example, that our own rescue, redemption and sanctification in Christ is itself the ultimate destination, then the answer to the Now what? question is--well, nothing . . . Indeed, the idea that there is nothing beyond our own spiritual development isn't meant to be satisfying--for our rescue is not the ultimate destination; it is the indispensable means by which God works out his plan to rescue the world."
We have been rescued to be rescuers to a hurting world, but because so many of us aren't willing to do that, we continue to be discontent. It's not that we don't know the commands of Christ, or don't want to do greater things, or help those in need. The problem is that we are only willing to follow Christ as far as it's safe, as long as we feel in control. As soon as there's more risk, warning signs, and we're not guaranteed to come home to our comfortable, North American lives unscathed, be back out and decide to stay safe. We have a yearning to be brave, but we want to be safe. The truth is, we can't have both.
I appreciated Gary addressing parents specifically in this book on two levels. For one, he encouraged readers to relate to the problem of human trafficking from the perspective of a parent. There are so many parents in the world who helplessly have to watch their children suffer, and all they need is just a fighting chance to give them a better life.
Second, he addressed parents who's children want to go out and do significant things with their lives, but they won't let them because they want to protect their children. But children are disappointed to realize that their parents have poured so much into them only to keep them safe. Gary says that these children will either perish in their safety or they will go looking for adventure in all the wrong places. I appreciated this because I have dealt with a lot of frustration in this area and I think parents need to see this.
"Are we raising our children to be safe or to be brave? Are we raising our children to be smart or to be loving? Are we raising them to be successful or significant?"
I was inspired by this book. I was inspired by Gary sharing his own life stories and appreciated him sharing his fears in starting IJM, afraid of it failing and end up looking like a fool. Since I'm pursuing an IJM endeavour at the moment, this was a great encouragement to me. I'm often afraid that something won't work out and I'll only end up looking like a fool. I will leave you with his words that helped me to keep going.
"When I am fifty, do I really want to look back and say, Yeah, I sensed God was calling me to lead a movement to bring rescue to people who desperately need an advocate in the world, but I was afraid of getting embarrassed and so I never even tried?"